Labour National Executive Committee (NEC) member Claudia Webbe joined calls for Tom Watson to ‘consider his position’ as deputy leader after he publicly trashed his colleague and Labour general secretary Jennie Formby, who’s undergoing chemotherapy.
@tom_watson your engaged in public attacks on the Labour Party’s General Secretary @JennieGenSec despite your clear knowledge she is receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer. This is not behaviour befitting of the Office of Deputy Leader. You should consider your position?
— Claudia Webbe (@ClaudiaWebbe) July 11, 2019
“Publicly attacking me” while I’m “unable to respond in the media”
The deputy leader attacked Formby, suggesting that under her remit:
antisemitism is tolerated and allowed to grow. [Panorama] depicted a party with structures completely unfit to deal with the scale of the problem.
A BBC Panorama episode entitled Is Labour Antisemitic? aired on 10 July. The programme pushed what’s predominantly a smear campaign to new heights. One striking part was the BBC selectively editing an internal Labour email and then broadcasting the result.
In a responding letter, Formby chastised Watson, saying:
traducing my reputation and publicly attacking me when you know I am undergoing chemotherapy and am unable to respond in the media, is another example of the inappropriate way in which you choose to discuss this issue.
Watson also suggested Formby:
deleted emails relating to cases of antisemitism and asked for cases to be sent to your Unite email address. I am concerned about this given you have previously reassured me, in the attached correspondence, that all data relating to antisemitism would be preserved.
But she responded:
This is not the case. Labour email addresses are copied into the particular email chain so the emails are fully searchable through our internal subject request searches. Therefore nothing is destroyed or hidden.
“We must deal with the facts”
I know it is a real problem in the Labour Party. Like you I have seen it first hand. But we must deal with the facts. Antisemitism-related cases that have been taken through the stages of our disciplinary procedures since September 2015 relate to roughly 0.06% of the Party’s average membership during this time. Since I started as General Secretary, the speed of processing of antisemitism cases has increased by more than four-fold.
By choosing to ignore the steps taken by this party, and commenting so uncritically about the Panorama programme, you are complicit in creating a perception that antisemitism is more prevalent in the Labour Party than wider society. This is deeply irresponsible for the deputy leader of a party which seeks to be in Government, and risks exacerbating the fear that Jewish communities will feel.
A YouGov poll found the following results in 2017:
On social media, Watson faced widespread criticism:
.@tom_watson knows perfectly well that he cannot make “demands” of Jennie Formby. She is only answerable to @UKLabour NEC. And very wrong to imply that she is dealing with this matter with anything less than her usual professionalism @JennieGenSec https://t.co/pCwOF1su2C
— Diane Abbott (@HackneyAbbott) July 11, 2019
Tom Watson attacks woman receiving cancer treatment. Are there no depths to which this man will not sink? Absolutely disgusting. It’s not Tom’s job to be receiving complaints or membership data. Absolutely sickening. https://t.co/UTICRmEHGD
— Sarah #EL4C (@ScouseGirlMedia) July 11, 2019
If Tom Watson is abusing his position and lying about Jennie Formby, then he should resign immediately. Causing a cancer patient unnecessary stress when she already has her health to worry about really doesn’t sit well with me.
— Aleesha (@a_leesha1) July 11, 2019
— Rachael Swindon #EL4C (@Rachael_Swindon) July 11, 2019
Watson has seemingly spent his entire time as deputy leader trying to destroy Labour from within. Now he is publicly smearing Formby while she undergoes cancer treatment. And many people clearly feel he should step down from his post before the next general election.
Featured image via Guardian News/ YouTube
- Sign the petition calling for Tom Watson to resign.
We’re a thorn in the side of the establishment, but we can’t do it without your help
Your fight is our fight. But as many of you will know, speaking truth to power has never been easy, especially for a small, independent media outlet such as the Canary. We have weathered many attempts to silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media. Now more than ever, we need your support.
We don’t have fancy offices, and our entire staff works remotely. Almost all of our income is spent on paying the people who make the Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our team and enables us to continue to do what we do: disrupt power, and amplify people.
But we can’t do this without you. So please, if you appreciate our work, can you help us continue the fight?